Members of the student group Refugee Outreach Kalamazoo at Michigan State University show up to cheer on the Newcomers youth soccer team.

Lansing area provide supports for hundreds of refugees

More 4,900 refugees have been resettled in Michigan so far in 2016, including 864 in the Lansing area, according to the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.

That’s up from 2,714 refugees statewide in 2015, and 611 in the Lansing area.

The growth comes despite criticism of some refugee re-settlement programs. During the campaign, President-elect Donald Trump pledged to shut off immigration from Syria to stop terrorists from slipping into the country.

Yet local refugee services groups say they’re committed to continuing to help people fleeing their homelands.

Monica Jahner at her comic book shop. Jahner works with A.R.R.O., re-entry program helping ex-offenders transition into the workplace.

A box hinders ex-offenders from moving on from their past

The box was holding her back.

It was on every job application form: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” Monica Jahner had to answer yes.

About 650,000 people are released from prison or jail each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. About two-thirds will likely be re-arrested. But re-entry programs are working to decrease the number of ex-offenders go back to prison. For many ex-offenders, that work starts with getting a job.

Historic homes are all over Lansing, but some may be at risk

By Jasmine Seales
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

Some of the many places that tourists frequently visit in Lansing are the multitude of historical houses and establishments in the Greater Lansing area. There are a number of churches, homes and buildings that are listed as historic sites, especially in the downtown Lansing area. The Historical Society of Greater Lansing President Bill Castanier has led a free walking tour on North Washington Avenue on July 14, in order to give a more in-depth look at the houses, tell who lived in them, when they were built, and who built them. Residents were not previously allowed access into the homes, but according to the Historical Society, many people had questions about the houses and structures. A correspondent from the Historical Society of Greater Lansing said that for the most part, the houses are holding up nicely, but the tour gives a new life to the houses, and allows outsiders to get the scoop on the houses, and putting a story to the houses they see on a regular basis.

Fundraisers hope a Promise will loosen purse strings of donors

By Jack Ritchey
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

The Lansing Promise Scholarship, created by legislation passed in 2009 that made 10 “promise zones” in Michigan, helps provide higher educational opportunities to deserving high school graduates or those who recently completed their GED. The scholarship is a big selling point for MSU Greenline, Michigan State University’s student call center, which asks Spartan alumni to give back to MSU. Jake Evasic, a physics senior at MSU and supervisor at Greenline, says scholarships like the Lansing Promise help callers pull at the heartstrings of alumni and help generate the pathos needed to get them to give back. “I know for sure we call about the Promise Scholarship,” Evasic, 22, said, “it’s something I liked to talk about a lot when I was a caller because you can start getting the alumni to sympathize with what it would be like to not come to MSU.” The scholarship can provide up to an associate’s degree at Lansing Community College or up to $5,000 tuition at MSU.

Despite prep school struggles, Lansing hopes a Promise will help kids make it to college

By Jasmine Seales
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

According to the website Start Class, all four of the Lansing high schools, including Eastern High School, Everett High School, J.W. Sexton High School, and alternative school Woodcreek Achievement Center are preforming poorly on test scores, with all four schools producing lower than average math proficiency skills and reading skills compared to other Michigan high schools. Graduation rates have also decreased during the 2014 graduation year at both Woodcreek Achievement Center and Eastern High School. All four schools are also falling behind Michigan’s average graduation rate. Though graduation rates are not high in the Lansing School District, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce is helping to give an incentive for teens to graduate with the Lansing Promise scholarship program. The Lansing Chamber president Tim Daman granted presented the Lansing Promise program a check for $65,206 on the morning of July 11, boosting their total donations to more than $83,000, and over $1.1 million total in this year’s total donations to the program.

Food drive aimed at helping Lansing’s hungry citizens

By Jasmine Seales
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

On Monday, June 13 the City of Lansing Human Relations and Community Services Department held a food drive at a local Meijer location in order to help battle against child hunger in Lansing and the Greater Lansing area. The HRCS director, Dr. Joan Jackson Johnson stated “the amount of food donated was astounding, our Greater Lansing residents are very generous and understand the issue of hunger in our community. It’s one of the many issues that the HRCS is trying hard to fix.” Though Jackson was reluctant to state exactly how much food was donated. Along with the HRCS and their efforts, the Greater Lansing Food Bank also has distributed over 7 million pounds of food last year to the mid-Michigan area to feed starving families. The food bank states that in Ingham County, in which Lansing is the largest city, over 49,000 people suffer from food insecurity.

Lansing lacking in giving domestic abuse victims a place to sleep

By Ella Kovacs
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

Domestic violence and relationship abuse happens all over the world, the United States, and Michigan. In big cities like Lansing, where there are many people in a concentrated area, it is vital for victims and survivors to have access–preferably easy access–to resources that will help and support them. For many women, the first resource they would think of is the police. But victims also need a place to sleep. Ruth Sternaman, a counselor at the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing, said that in the Lansing area, housing assistance for victims could be improved as well as child protective services.

Hunger is not a stranger in Lansing

By Jaylyn Galloway
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

For some in Lansing, food banks aren’t an option; they are a necessity. “The local food bank is how I afforded to keep my house fed,” Brenda Smith, a Lansing resident, said. At the time Smith and her husband were not only trying to feed themselves, but also the senior citizens that they took care of, she said. She had to get on assistance in order to keep everyone fed, because the money that their families provided wasn’t going to be enough. Like the local food bank Smith used to help her to feed her household the Greater Lansing Food Bank is up to take the challenge to feed as many people as they can.